Water Meter FAQs

How does the metering system work?
Dubuque’s meter system includes Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) technology that eliminates the need to manually read the meter, prevents recording errors, minimizes wear and tear on vehicles, and allows quicker detection of water line leaks. Each of Dubuque's water meters is connected to a radio frequency meter interface unit (MIU), which collects water usage data from the meter and remotely transmits the information to data collectors. The MIU is located on the exterior of the structure containing the meter. The MIU and water meter work as a unit to measure water flow and detect intermittent leaks, continuous leaks, reverse flow situations, and zero usage situations.

This metering system has been in place for all customers in the city of Dubuque since 2011 and is considered a “smart” metering system. In addition to the functions listed above, this metering system features Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) technology that saves time, prevents recording errors, and potentially allows water line leaks to be identified sooner rather than later.

How does Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) work?
A small box, called a Meter Interface Unit (MIU), is installed on the exterior of your property.  It is connected to your new water meter and transmits a radio signal to a data collector which relays the information to the City’s Utility Billing Office.  The system will provide hourly readings, but you will still be billed monthly.

What if there is a leak at the meter or any other problem with the meter?
Please contact the City of Dubuque Water Department at 563-589-4304.

Can I cover up my meter?
No.  Access needs to be available at all times.  Dubuque City Code requires that “all meters shall be installed horizontally between one foot (1’) and four feet (4’) above the basement floor. A suitable place shall be provided for the meter so as to keep it dry and clean and readily accessible at all times to the meter reader and inspectors of the City.” 

MIU installed on the home

MIU on the exterior of the home

Is there any special care or maintenance that I need to do to with the metering system?


No, your metering system does not require any maintenance by the homeowner. The City of Dubuque will take care of all maintenance; however, you should be careful not to damage the meter or allow it to freeze.  MIUs should NOT be painted or covered because so doing impacts long-term maintenance of the system. Painting or covering the unit prevents the City from easily accessing the label that is unique to each MIU.

If a water meter, wire, or meter interface unit needs to be relocated or detached from your home or business,(for painting or re-siding your home, for example) please contact the Water Department at 563-589-4304 and a staff person will disconnect and reconnect it free of charge.  Tampering with or damaging any part of the meter reading system may result in a $50 fine plus repair costs and a service fee.
How can I track my water usage?
A free water management tool and online payment portal, WaterSmart, is available to City of Dubuque water customers. Through the WaterSmart portal, customers can:
  • View detailed information on household water usage
  • Compare their household water usage with similar households in the area
  • Pay their bill
  • Access current and past bills
  • Check for water leaks
  • Receive alerts
  • View tips on how to save on water bills
  • Enroll in paperless eBilling and sign up for auto-deducted payments
To learn more or to register for WaterSmart, visit www.cityofdubuque.org/watersmart and use the account number listed on your water bill, followed by the five-digit zip code associated with the property where the water meter is located. To receive the most accurate water-use estimations and comparisons to similar households, answer the simple profile survey once you have registered.
WaterSmart Customer Portal
Meter display
How can I manually read my meter?
Your new meter has a digital display and can be read manually.  Simply shine a light on the meter to activate the LCD display.  It will show a meter reading and then, after six seconds, it will show the rate of flow.  A flashing faucet icon on the display represents an intermittent leak.  A constant faucet icon represents a constant leak. See figure for icon definitions.